Junior doctors strike sees ops cancelled

Doctors on an earlier strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Doctors on an earlier strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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Operations at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been cancelled as doctors up to consultant level go on strike.

Junior doctors will provide emergency cover only from 8am this morning until the same time on Friday as a row over new contracts continues.

Further 48-hour strikes are planned on April 8, and April 26.

Hospital staff said three operations have been cancelled, alongside 14 new appointments and 134 follow-up appointments.

The Trust was unable to say how many doctors were set to walk out because they didn’t have to say if they were striking or not, a spokesman said.

Medical director, Prof Mark O’Donnell, said: “While we plan to maintain as many services as possible, we will need to postpone some appointments and procedures.

“Those patients affected will be contacted by telephone and those who do not hear from us should assume their appointment or procedure is going ahead as planned.”

Residents have been asked to consider whether a trip to A&E is necessary, particularly over the next two days.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said its members are striking because health secretary Jeremy Hunt is imposing a new contract on junior doctors after lengthy negotiations broke down.

The BMA has now launched a judicial review, with chairman of its junior doctors committee Dr Johann Malawana saying: “Junior doctors want to agree a fair contract that delivers for patients, doctors and the NHS as a whole.

“We remain concerned that the imposed contract has many untested elements, including how effective the new safeguards will be in practice.

“The Government’s proposals would also greatly impact those junior doctors who work the most unsocial hours, affecting doctors in our A&Es and other areas of medicine that are already struggling to recruit and keep staff, compounding staff shortages which would clearly be bad for the delivery of patient care and the NHS in the long term.”

However, Dr Mike Durkin, the NHS’s national director for patient safety, yesterday said the current contract had serious flaws and patients would be safer under the new arrangements.

He said: “I am particularly aware of the current situation where doctors in training find themselves fatigued and under stress because of rota gaps and increased workload which can lead to an inevitable impact on morale and staff safety.”

Dr Durkin said the new contract will deliver a number of safety benefits, including limits on working hours, improved shift patterns and more safeguards.